New calves rest in the Bucks’ maternity room at their farm near Goodhue, Minnesota. Younger kids who attended the barn tour April 2 enjoyed seeing the baby calves. 
PHOTO BY KATE RECHTZIGEL
New calves rest in the Bucks’ maternity room at their farm near Goodhue, Minnesota. Younger kids who attended the barn tour April 2 enjoyed seeing the baby calves. PHOTO BY KATE RECHTZIGEL
    GOODHUE, Minn. − On April 2, Dennis and Ruth Buck opened their farm to the public with a twist.
    “People are always asking to see our robot barn, and we are always looking for ways to raise money for the scholarship committee, so we thought combining the two would be a great idea,” Ruth said.
    Dennis and Ruth and their kids − Alicia, Austin, Kaitlyn, Kennedy, Brooke and Justin − hosted the public for a tour of the robotic milking system from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with proceeds from the event going to the Goodhue Scholarship Fund. Voth Insurance Agency matched the first $500 in funds.
       The Bucks milk 132 cows with two Lely robots which were installed March 2015 on their organic dairy near Goodhue.
    “Our youngest two kids, Brooke and Justin, are graduating high school in 2022 and 2023, so we are splitting the funds raised to help fund scholarships for their graduating classes,” Ruth said.
    Dennis and Austin welcomed attendees into the robot room and answered any questions they had about the robots.
    One attendee commented they could not believe the cows stand there and let the robots milk; Dennis said the animals are content when they can eat as the robot is milking.
    Alicia and Ruth took attendees to the office and showed them how the cows line up to go through the robot.
    The tour was open to the public; local farmers, community members, family and friends attended.
    “Many who attended were from the local area, but there were some who traveled an hour or more to come to the event,” Ruth said.
     In the barn, Dennis explained that the milk goes from the cow into a jar and then moves to the bulk tank after the cow leaves. He also explained that the milking unit is flushed with water in between each cow.
    A local farmer in attendance said he remembered when they had to clean the units by hand. He thought the automated system looked more efficient.
    Another attendee who used to work on a dairy asked how the robot checks for mastitis.
    “The system measures the conductivity of each cow,” Dennis said. “It comes up on a list so we’re always checking and seeing who’s high. We really don’t have too much of it. If everything’s working well and the work is getting done right in the barn, we don’t really have any.”
    Alicia said the robots have helped improve cow comfort on their farm because the cows can milk at their own rate.
    “They can milk two, three or four times a day,” she said.
    The farm grows most of their own feed. 
     Dennis explained to attendees that the cows have activity monitors which he said are like necklaces with a microchip that tells the computer exactly who they are.
    Throughout the tour, the Bucks heard numerous comments about their operation and dairy farming from the attendees. Many were grateful for the opportunity to learn more. Adults and children alike were amazed by the robots and cows they saw on the Bucks’ organic farm.
    And, the day also benefited the community. In total, the tour raised $1,000 for the scholarship fund.
     “We appreciate all who came to visit and donated,” Ruth said.